It is said that Purulia, located on the east part of the Chota Nagpur plateau and carved out of Manbhum district, is just another backward place in rural India. In fact, it may be kinder to describe it as a neglected place, and a place that despite the hardships endured by its inhabitants, is rich in culture and tradition.
During my several visits to Purulia, I became overwhelmed by the diversity of its traditional culture and natural landscape. Unfortunately, alongside this there is still a lot of suffering in the daily life of Purulia’s inhabitants; the condition of economy, transport system and agricultural cultivation is not worthy of mention. Geographically it is in an area of low rainfall. People have to migrate to nearby towns to scrape a living by hard labour. Education and health facilities are also in a very sorry state and students and patients travel miles for basic facilities. Water is also in scarce supply. In the scorching heat of the sun, women carrying water containers on their heads toward distant rivers is a common sight.
While traveling in Purulia, I visited several villages and tribal colonies and the majority of them are in this same sorry state. In spite of all these sufferings, however, people are very rich in their traditional culture but the economic condition has sadly become a barrier to progression. The government and some NGOs are taking steps towards improving the basic quality of life in Purulia, but this is not enough.
In normal parlance, a diary is a place one writes down experiences or feelings at regular intervals. My Purulia Diary is, however, slightly different from such a concept. I am a suburban Indian brought up in a lower middle class family. From childhood my surroundings left a deep impact on my life and to this day I am enchanted by the intimacy of nature and simple living. This makes it possible for me to explore what I have come to recognise as my ancestry. After finishing school, I had to migrate from the leisurely outskirts of town to a busy life in the city for my higher studies. The city engulfed the large canvas of boundless sky, silent moments of my home, noisy wings of the pigeons, innocence and my dreamy nights. Since then I have been trying to relate my inner world with the fast outer world. From childhood I felt it very difficult to express my feelings properly to others – either by talking or writing.
As a simple human being and visitor to Purulia, sometimes I felt very feeble for not being able to contribute any real help to the people there. I want to be a voice amongst these people and this state of mind urges me to photograph my feelings and my experiences.
– Subrata Biswas